College Hockey Games of the Week
Two top 10 showdowns highlight a relatively quiet week as teams prepare for the stretch run through the second half of the schedule. We are now less than two months from the NCAA tournament and it is important for teams to find their stride as we approach the postseason.
No. 8 UMass-Lowell vs. No. 3 Providence
Friday: 7 p.m. (at Providence), Saturday: 7 p.m.(at UMass-Lowell)
Two of the hottest teams in the country and two conference leaders square off in a home-and-home series in what will be the premier matchup of the weekend. UMass-Lowell has won three straight contests including a convincing sweep at UMass (Amherst) last week in which they outscored the Minutemen 9-1. Providence swept Vermont on the road last week and now sits in the top three in the polls for the 13th straight week. If the River Hawks expect to scrape some points in this series, they will have to play consistent hockey for 60 minutes as Providence is one of the best teams nationwide in the first and third periods. The Friars have outscored opponents 32-9 in first periods this season and head coach Nate Leaman is 77-3-7 at Providence when leading after two periods. The Friars are undefeated in their last 14 home games and if the River Hawks hope to break the streak on Friday night, it will come on the defensive end. They have the second ranked scoring defense in the country, checking in at 1.64 goals against per game, and goaltender Kevin Boyle leads the conference and sits fourth nationally in both goals against average (1.64) and save percentage (.941).
No. 9 Harvard vs. No. 10 Cornell
Saturday: 8 p.m.
The bottom two teams in the top 10 come backing into this game as both teams look to rebound off of lackluster efforts recently. Harvard has lost four of six since facing Boston University and Quinnipiac in consecutive weeks while Cornell was shut out in last Saturday’s game against Rensselaer. Senior forward Jimmy Vesey leads the Crimson attack, ranking third nationally in points per game with 27 (13 goals, 14 assists) including a hat trick last weekend in a 3-2 win over St. Lawrence. Harvard ranks fifth in the nation on the power play, converting 27.1 percent of opportunities. Merrick Madsen has been solid in goal for the Crimson, tallying four shutouts and a .935 save percentage. Cornell’s goaltender Mitch Gillam isn’t too shabby either, also with four shutouts and a .927 save percentage. Gillam and junior forward Jeff Kubiak have both been nominated for the Hobey Baker Award this week. Freshman winger Anthony Angello paces the Big Red with eight goals on the season and ranks sixth nationally in goals per game among freshmen with 0.47 per game.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.